Many people fighting cancer are forced to undergo surgery to remove lymph nodes from the area around their tumors. This surgery is especially common in cases of breast cancer. Typically, a cancer spreads by small numbers of cancerous cells spreading to the three nearest lymph nodes to the tumor. During treatment, these lymph nodes are biopsied and removed if they show signs of cancerous cells.
Effects of Lymph Node Removal
The lymphatic system is your body's way of managing waste removal. Lymph nodes are spread throughout your body, just beneath the skin's surface, to flush out harmful toxins. When these lymph nodes are removed due to breast cancer, your body is less effective at removing waste. The result can be blockages, infections and even intense physical pain and swelling in the area. This is known as lymphedema. A lymph node transplant addresses these symptoms by taking healthy lymph nodes from other areas of the body and moving them to the affected area to restore your body's ability to remove toxins.
Lymph Node Transplant Procedures
The steps of a lymph node transplant are fairly simple. New technology allows doctors to use dyes and advanced tests to determine which lymph nodes are safe for harvesting. This ensures that you will not experience lymphedema at the removal site once the nodes are transplanted, which would only exacerbate the problem. This process is called mapping. Once the donor lymph nodes are selected, typically from the groin or upper body, a simple surgery is done to remove the nodes. They are then moved to the area where you are experiencingm lymphedema. Special care will be used to reopen any damaged vessels carrying lymphatic fluid so that the newly placed node can continue functioning normally.
Lymph node transplants help provide relief for patients suffering from lymphedema following cancer treatments. They can be used to reduce pain and discomfort, as well as improve your body's ability to resume flushing toxins from the area. This is especially important for patients who have undergone lengthy cancer treatments. The transplant process is typically done in conjunction with other treatments to ensure the body is able to fight off infections and get rid of any infections or blockages.